Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles now offers patrons a 5% discount on their meal if they check their phones at the door. According to owner and chef Mark Gold, the point of this is to give patrons an experience: “It’s about two people sitting together and just connecting, without the distraction of a phone, and we’re trying to create an ambience where you come in and really enjoy the experience and the food and the company.”
Hopefully, other eateries will follow suit. This is a welcome change from meals that are little more than venues for sharing physical space instead of actual interaction. At lunchtime, my friends and I (all iPhone users) often slip into what I term “asshole mode,” where we’re all sitting around a table and simply staring at our phones while shoveling food into our mouths. Lunchtime chatting, gossip, and news sharing eventually devolves into us all quietly staring at our phones. Pinterest or emails seem to command our attention more than our family, friends, and colleagues.
In a time when sharing a meal has come to mean posting it with others on Facebook or Instagram, I like the idea of taking our phones out of the equation. And a 5% discount on a great meal is icing on the cake.
Another great idea for dining out is The Phone Stack game: everyone stacks their phones in the middle of the table, and whoever reaches for their phone first has to pay for everyone. This may be no big deal at a fast food or chain restaurant, but the stakes are raised at an upscale eatery. And who doesn’t love a free meal?
For many of us, phones have become our master rather than our servant. I’m glad to see one restaurant take a step to put things back in perspective.